Indonesia to launch mass COVID-19 vaccination drive on Jan. 13, with president getting first shot

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JAKARTA — Indonesia will begin its nationwide COVID-19 mass vaccination program on Jan. 13, with President Joko Widodo leading from the front. Jokowi, as he’s popularly known, is set to be inoculated against the coronavirus on the first day of the campaign.

The president will receive the shots along with public and army representatives as a way to build confidence in the vaccine, the country’s health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Tuesday.

According to the minister, vaccinations in other regions are set to start in the next two days.

The government has previously said 1.3 million frontline workers are set to be among the first to receive the vaccines made by China’s Sinovac Biotech.

The Chinese company has shipped 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the country. Now, the government is waiting on the local food and drug regulator to issue emergency use authorization for the shots to begin inoculating its population, with a target of reaching 181.5 million people by March 2022. Jokowi has called on the Cabinet to shorten that timeline further.

Even before the regulator’s approval, the government has started distributing the vaccines to its 34 provinces spread across the world’s largest archipelago.